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Question About Using Neutral In Automatic Car  
User currently offlineTu204 From Russia, joined Mar 2006, 1161 posts, RR: 17
Posted (7 years 8 months 16 hours ago) and read 15071 times:

I recently bought a 1999 BMW 740iL with an automatic transmission. My second car is that nice classic 1970 Volga 21 which has a standard transmission. I am very used to making use of "neutral" when driving to maximise economy (I don't like coasting down a small hill or to a stop sign in speed so I put it into neutral and that is usually enough to maintain speed when on a slope or slowly reduce speed if coasting towards a red light...hey, it beats speeding towards a light and them slamming your brakes on)
So anyways, my question: Is it ok to put an automatic car into neutral when coasting down a hill or going towards a light? Is there any negative effect on the transmission itself?
Any opinions would be appreaciated!


I do not dream about movie stars, they must dream about me for I am real and they are not. - Alexander Popov
47 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineGo3Team From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3267 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (7 years 8 months 15 hours ago) and read 15059 times:

Using neutral in a standard transmission can cause damage to the transmission using it as you described. You are not saving much, if any fuel by doing so. There isn't any reason to do so in an automatic as well. The transmission does all of the work for you. You also risk the possibility of accidently putting it in reverse while moving forward. That can be bad. Doing what you are doing could also impact your concentration on driving.


Yay Pudding!
User currently offlineJamie757 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (7 years 8 months 15 hours ago) and read 15055 times:

Quoting Tu204 (Thread starter):

You'd probably get better fuel consumption if you used the selector positions 1, 2, 3 (assuming it's a fairly steep hill). No doubt you'd have more control over the vehicle too.

Also, the speed at which you can travel in some automatics (whilst in neutral), is recommended to be kept below 50mph or so to avoid damage to the transmission.

False economy if you ask me!

Rgds.

[Edited 2006-11-26 05:04:14]

User currently offlineBoston92 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 3390 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (7 years 8 months 15 hours ago) and read 15060 times:

My brother puts his automatic in neutral going down a pass (or long grade), for about 15-20 minutes. It might not be very good, but just remember, never rev the engine.


"Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut save you 30 cents?"
User currently offlineShawn Patrick From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 2608 posts, RR: 17
Reply 4, posted (7 years 8 months 15 hours ago) and read 15046 times:

So is this why I had to get a new transmission?  banghead 

Why exactly is it bad for it?


User currently offlineArmitageShanks From UK - England, joined Dec 2003, 3607 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (7 years 8 months 15 hours ago) and read 15043 times:

Quoting Boston92 (Reply 3):
It might not be very good, but just remember, never rev the engine.

Why not rev the engine?


User currently offlineBoston92 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 3390 posts, RR: 7
Reply 6, posted (7 years 8 months 15 hours ago) and read 15040 times:

Quoting ArmitageShanks (Reply 5):
Why not rev the engine?

When going 70 down a hill, in neutral, and you rev the engine, it gets up to 5 or 6 thousand RPM, and you risk blowing your engine.



"Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut save you 30 cents?"
User currently offlineJAGflyer From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 3494 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (7 years 8 months 15 hours ago) and read 15030 times:

Never used neutral except when going through a car wash or when parking on a slight incline to move my car a bit away from the curb. The shifter will not go beyong N from D unless you push the button in.


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User currently offlineJamie757 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 8 months 15 hours ago) and read 15019 times:

Quoting Shawn Patrick (Reply 4):
Why exactly is it bad for it?

It overheats the torque converter. Also, on some vehicles the engine oil lubricates the transmission, high vehicle speed + low engine speed = damaged transmission.

On most modern vehicles with manual transmission, the engine management system cuts fuel delivery almost completely when you ease off the accelerator (providing that you are in a gear and the clutch is up), if you are in neutral, then the engine reverts to idle speed instead. That uses fuel.

Rgds.


User currently offlineTu204 From Russia, joined Mar 2006, 1161 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (7 years 8 months 15 hours ago) and read 15006 times:

Quoting Go3Team (Reply 1):
You also risk the possibility of accidently putting it in reverse while moving forward.

I don't know about other cars, but in my BMW it does blocks R unless you are standing still. It simply wont engage Reverse if you are moving quickly.
On my standard Volga it is nearly impossible do this either because of the mechanics of it (the gears just won't click in). I actually had this happen inadvertainly when I just bought the Volga because of the strange way they arranged the speeds.(idiotic-the lever is on the steering column and the arrangement is an upside down "tree" that most cars usually have-takes a while to get used to) I kept trying to put it into Reverse instead of 3rd gear and it never did it (it would just "grind" for a second untill I realised my mistake). I did however manage to put it into Reverse instead of 1st gear several times when at a parking lot or a traffic light (freaked out the people behind me I think!), but that is from a standstill, and again because of the arrangement of the speeds and my incompetence.
In the standard transmission using neutral only causes damage if you improperly re-engage it (i.e. the engine's RPM is much lower than that of the transmission and when you put it back into gear it will slow down with a jolt.) But all I do is give it a little gas (depending on the speed I am going) and then put it in making a smooth transition. I assume the damage you are referring to in an automatic is for the same reason?

Quoting Boston92 (Reply 6):
When going 70 down a hill, in neutral, and you rev the engine, it gets up to 5 or 6 thousand RPM, and you risk blowing your engine.

 checkmark 

Quoting Go3Team (Reply 1):
Doing what you are doing could also impact your concentration on driving.

Definatly. Agree with you 100%. But I am used to driving standard and that takes a bit more concentration if you ask me.

Quoting JAGflyer (Reply 7):
The shifter will not go beyong N from D unless you push the button in.

Really? What car do you have? My BMW and all standards that I have ever driven (modern ones) require you to simply push the level from N to D to 3 to 2 to 1. You only press the button when going into R, P from P or P from N I think.



I do not dream about movie stars, they must dream about me for I am real and they are not. - Alexander Popov
User currently onlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21406 posts, RR: 54
Reply 10, posted (7 years 8 months 14 hours ago) and read 15000 times:

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 8):
On most modern vehicles with manual transmission, the engine management system cuts fuel delivery almost completely when you ease off the accelerator (providing that you are in a gear and the clutch is up), if you are in neutral, then the engine reverts to idle speed instead. That uses fuel.

I think that's a fallacy. If you don't switch to neutral when going downhill with a manual and the motor management cuts off all fuel to the engine, the engine will act as a brake - if the hill is not steep enough to warrant that amount of braking, you'd have to push a bit on the accelerator anyway just to maintain the engine turning at the speed corresponding to your current speed. And that will very likely require more fuel than it would in idle.

I'd expect that you'd only save any fuel if you were going slower than with the engine at idle, and that is very, very rare.

I still see no good reason to not use neutral for fuel saving with a manual gearbox.

By the way: I'd prefer to have the relatively cheap brake pads replaced instead of the motor after being abused as a brake.


User currently offlineGo3Team From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3267 posts, RR: 16
Reply 11, posted (7 years 8 months 14 hours ago) and read 14986 times:

Quoting Klaus (Reply 10):
I think that's a fallacy. If you don't switch to neutral when going downhill with a manual and the motor management cuts off all fuel to the engine, the engine will act as a brake

That's kind of the point.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 10):
By the way: I'd prefer to have the relatively cheap brake pads replaced instead of the motor after being abused as a brake.

You cause more abuse by starting your engine than using it as a brake. Using the engine for compression braking in no way harms the engine. The fuel saved probably wouldn't even cover the costs of the brake pads.



Yay Pudding!
User currently offlineArmitageShanks From UK - England, joined Dec 2003, 3607 posts, RR: 15
Reply 12, posted (7 years 8 months 14 hours ago) and read 14973 times:

Quoting Boston92 (Reply 6):
When going 70 down a hill, in neutral, and you rev the engine, it gets up to 5 or 6 thousand RPM, and you risk blowing your engine.

Wow, I didn't know it would do something like that. What causes it to do that at a high speed compared with doing it at idle?


User currently offlineGQfluffy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (7 years 8 months 14 hours ago) and read 14966 times:

Quoting Boston92 (Reply 6):
it gets up to 5 or 6 thousand RPM

If a engine in any of my vehicles blows while reving to 5 or 6 thousand RPM, then I would think that engine is a pice of shat. If I can't rev it to red line...(assuming I'm not bouncing it off the rev-limiter) from time to time...whether reving it or racing to redline...then IMNSHO it was a crappy motor from the get-go.


User currently offlineJamie757 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (7 years 8 months 14 hours ago) and read 14966 times:

Quoting Klaus (Reply 10):
I still see no good reason to not use neutral for fuel saving with a manual gearbox.

I do, it gives me/you a lot more control whilst slowing the vehicle down. Think of it like this, if the engine is braking as well, then you effectively have two brakes working for you. This means less wear on your brake pads. As said by Go3Team previously, it doesn't do the engine any harm (or abuse as you put it).

 Smile

Rgds.


User currently offlineCfalk From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (7 years 8 months 14 hours ago) and read 14962 times:

Quoting Go3Team (Reply 1):
Using neutral in a standard transmission can cause damage to the transmission using it as you described.

That's the way they were designed to be used. How can you damage it?The gears are simply spinning without being meshed.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 10):
I think that's a fallacy. If you don't switch to neutral when going downhill with a manual and the motor management cuts off all fuel to the engine, the engine will act as a brake

Modern fuel injections do indeed use virtually no fuel when used in engine braking (when the computer detects that the driveshaft is driving the engine to go faster than the throttle position would have it turn.) Idle, on the other hand does need fuel.

So if you are going down a hill and you can maintain speed in 5th or 6th gear, you save gas compared to if you put it in neutral.

But in the case of his Volga, which I assume uses a carburator, I don't believe it works the same way, and it uses as much fuel as it would at idle, or probably a bit more.


User currently offlineGQfluffy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (7 years 8 months 14 hours ago) and read 14962 times:

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 14):
Think of it like this, if the engine is braking as well, then you effectively have two brakes working for you. This means less wear on your brake pads. As said by Go3Team previously, it doesn't do the engine any harm (or abuse as you put it).

Eh...you are putting some back presure on the engine...and in half a dozen years of driving manual transmissions...when I would use the gears to slow me down...it would eat gas milage...


User currently offlineJamie757 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 8 months 13 hours ago) and read 14950 times:

Quoting GQfluffy (Reply 16):
Eh...you are putting some back presure on the engine...and in half a dozen years of driving manual transmissions...when I would use the gears to slow me down...it would eat gas milage...

Fair point, going down through all the gears isn't necessary though. Engine braking works in high gears too. If I'm braking to a standstill I'll leave it in the gear I'm using when I start braking. When I'm stationary or thereabouts, the clutch goes in, and I'll shift to a lower gear. Block changing is much easier. I see the fuel consumption figures on my trip computer drop as soon as I start braking.

Rgds.


User currently onlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21406 posts, RR: 54
Reply 18, posted (7 years 8 months 13 hours ago) and read 14938 times:

Quoting Go3Team (Reply 11):
You cause more abuse by starting your engine than using it as a brake.

That's not the alternative in that case. Actually, it would go the other way around - letting the motor management cut out and restart the engine would go more into that direction.

Quoting Go3Team (Reply 11):
Using the engine for compression braking in no way harms the engine.

Not true.

Especially not regarding the transmission. Switching loads - as between pulling the car and pushing the motor - is absolutely the worst you could do to any mechanical gearbox, and unfortunately unavoidable when using the motor alternatingly for acceleration and as a brake. Softly disengaging and re-engaging the forward pulling force causes a lot less stress on the gearbox.

And the motor lives or dies to a large extent by the amount of revolutions it has to perform. So having it pushed at high rpms is certainly not good for it!

Quoting Go3Team (Reply 11):
The fuel saved probably wouldn't even cover the costs of the brake pads.

I routinely avoid braking by looking ahead and letting it run in neutral where appropriate. If anything, I use the brakes less than most people I've watched driving so far.

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 14):
I do, it gives me/you a lot more control whilst slowing the vehicle down.

Not really. When using the motor as a brake you have a very limited range of braking force available (which is also constantly changing according to the current state of the motor). If you happen to need to increase it beyond that limit, you need to switch to the actual brakes in addition. And if you need to brake faster than the motor wants to slow down, you'd have to de-clutch as well. Not really what I'd call optimal control.

The real brakes allow for a positive and continuous control of the braking force right up to the maximum possible.

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 14):
Think of it like this, if the engine is braking as well, then you effectively have two brakes working for you.

That's a dangerous fallacy. In a quick deceleration you'll actually find the motor counteracting your braking because it can't spin down fast enough! If you forget to hit the clutch quickly enough, you'll be in trouble!

You'll get into a pickle a lot easier when being accustomed to motor braking - and you'll lose precious meters of braking distance exactly when it counts the most!


User currently offlineGo3Team From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3267 posts, RR: 16
Reply 19, posted (7 years 8 months 13 hours ago) and read 14930 times:

Quoting Cfalk (Reply 15):
How can you damage it?The gears are simply spinning without being meshed.

It's all in how the transmission is lubricated. No lubrication = bad.



Yay Pudding!
User currently offlineJamie757 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (7 years 8 months 13 hours ago) and read 14917 times:

Quoting Klaus (Reply 18):
That's not the alternative in that case. Actually, it would go the other way around - letting the motor management cut out and restart the engine would go more into that direction.

The engine doesn't stop and restart when you lift off the gas, it slows down.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 18):
Softly disengaging and re-engaging the forward pulling force causes a lot less stress on the gearbox.

What you really mean here is slipping the clutch.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 18):
I routinely avoid braking by looking ahead and letting it run in neutral where appropriate. If anything, I use the brakes less than most people I've watched driving so far.

Your clutch bearings will be expiring soon then.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 18):
That's a dangerous fallacy. In a quick deceleration you'll actually find the motor counteracting your braking because it can't spin down fast enough! If you forget to hit the clutch quickly enough, you'll be in trouble!

I don't know if your vehicle has ABS or EBA, but my handbook tells me how to use the footbrake in an emergency. Emergency braking and normal braking are different things entirely.

Rgds.


User currently onlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21406 posts, RR: 54
Reply 21, posted (7 years 8 months 12 hours ago) and read 14905 times:

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 20):
The engine doesn't stop and restart when you lift off the gas, it slows down.

It stops and restarts combustion. Which is one part of the equation.

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 20):
What you really mean here is slipping the clutch.

Simply operating it properly, nothing excessive at all.

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 20):
Your clutch bearings will be expiring soon then.

Nope. Over 265000km and still on the first motor, first gearbox and the first clutch.

As said above: It needs to be operated properly!

Quoting Jamie757 (Reply 20):
I don't know if your vehicle has ABS or EBA, but my handbook tells me how to use the footbrake in an emergency. Emergency braking and normal braking are different things entirely.

No. The former is almost always an extension of the latter, born out of quickly developing situations where you can't afford fiddling around with any more mechanics than you absolutely had to!


User currently offlineMrChips From Canada, joined Mar 2005, 927 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (7 years 8 months 10 hours ago) and read 14881 times:

There is nothing wrong with coasting in gear, Klaus. It really does save you fuel, and there is no harm done to your transmission or clutch if you operate it the way that a manual transmission is supposed to be operated. As for emergency braking, I find it hard to believe that one's first reaction would be to downshift when they see a stopped car directly in front of them - 99.99% of people's first reactions would be to hammer the brake and the clutch simultaneously - I know I would do that.

Furthermore, what red-blooded male doesn't like the sound of a car in the overrun, as the exhaust makes all kinds of wonderful popping noises?

Quoting Klaus (Reply 18):
Switching loads - as between pulling the car and pushing the motor - is absolutely the worst you could do to any mechanical gearbox, and unfortunately unavoidable when using the motor alternatingly for acceleration and as a brake. Softly disengaging and re-engaging the forward pulling force causes a lot less stress on the gearbox.

That's why you rev match when you change gears up or especially down, to minimize the amount of clutch slippage that you need for a smooth change. Plus, it reduces the force on the synchromeshes in your transmission.

Top be honest, I've never been told that "switching loads" is bad for your transmission. If you do it abruptly with no rev-matching, the damage to your transmission is the least of your worries, as demonstrated by this guy:



If you don't rev match in a RWD car, you WILL do this at some point.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 18):

And the motor lives or dies to a large extent by the amount of revolutions it has to perform. So having it pushed at high rpms is certainly not good for it!

Not true - the motor lives and dies by the PRESSURES and TEMPERATURES it experiences; revolutions only come into play if you decide the redline doesn't mean anything.

[Edited 2006-11-26 10:12:03]


Time...to un-pimp...ze auto!
User currently offlineSiren From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 312 posts, RR: 12
Reply 23, posted (7 years 8 months 10 hours ago) and read 14871 times:

Quoting Shawn Patrick (Reply 4):
Why exactly is it bad for it?

Not just the torque converter as Jamie757 pointed out. Your planetaries are still rotating (they are analogous to gears in an automatic transmission). When you slip the car into neutral, they continue to rotate as they are still engaged to the driveshaft - all you've done by putting the car in neutral is disengage the forward clutch assembly. Everything in the transmission is still rotating, however the internal components are now not getting lubricated - and you overheat the transmission very quickly. The torque converter also overheats.


User currently offlineDL021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11446 posts, RR: 76
Reply 24, posted (7 years 8 months 9 hours ago) and read 14861 times:
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aaaahhhhhh............no


Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
25 Go3Team : That was what I was also thinking, although my daily driver doesn't have synchronizers, so it has to be an exact match when putting it in the next ge
26 Post contains images Klaus : It depends on your overall driving style, and no, I doubt that it saves fuel to invest energy into running the engine at high rpm when it could be in
27 N231YE : I unfortunately cannot do this trick (whether or not it works). Since I drive hybrid, if I put my CVT into neutral, than it would prevent the electric
28 Post contains images Klaus : There's nothing unfortunate about it at all - a hybrid car gains its advantage by not wasting the braking energy at all but saving it for the next ac
29 Post contains images TRVYYZ : What a load of blunders from a bunch of know it all anetters. But some have got it right, of course. Only possible cons while going downhill on NEUTRA
30 Post contains links and images Jamie757 : There's a couple more, how about brake wear? Brake fade, which can sometimes lead to brake failure. What if the engine stalls? The vacuum assistance
31 JAGflyer : Why don't we all agree on this; use neutral when you take your car to the carwash and it says to do so. Otherwise don't use it. Its not worth the stre
32 Post contains images Klaus : Much cheaper to fix than replacing motor, gearbox and clutch. And with halfway intelligent driving still rare enough. Happens only under rare circums
33 Sv2008 : Engine braking is much safer, theres no reason not to use it. You aren't saving enough fuel for it to be worth it (putting it in neutral), and theres
34 Post contains images Klaus : There are clearly reasons why it's less safe (see above); Why is it supposed to be safer, then? See above. Yeah. Keeping the engine at much higher rp
35 Sv2008 : Unless you live in mountains, it's such a short time, it makes little difference. And anything below 3000 rpm on a petrol dosn't cause any extra wear
36 Klaus : That applies only to very long descents at high load or to trucks; And I already said above that in those very rare circumstances motor braking can b
37 Post contains images Jamie757 : As was stated earlier in the thread, engines, transmissions and clutches are designed and built to be operated using compression braking. The switchi
38 Sv2008 : I know just from driving that the brakes are so powerful, any difference is going to be tiny, if it even exists. The brakes will force the engine to
39 Go3Team : Ahhh, just remembered something... Coasting in neutal is considered illegal in some localities. Can be considered reckless driving - failing to mainta
40 ArmitageShanks : There are signs on some of the local highways stating that here in Tennessee.
41 Go3Team : Some truck drivers like to kick it out of gear going down some of those nice TN downgrades. Worked with a guy that blew up a motor + trans doing that
42 BristolFlyer : Plus also with every auto 'box I have ever driven you can shift from drive to neutral without the 'secondary action' - ie depressing the button on th
43 DrDeke : I assumed he meant that if you forget you had it in neutral and stepped on the gas to accelerate, the engine would rev much faster than you expected
44 TRVYYZ : No, that is not what he meant. He had specified a speed of 70 (mph as he in US), it was as if the revs would be more because of the speed.
45 Bill142 : Going down a hill in neutral is the stupidest thing ever. Gravity takes over and by the time you come to the bottom of the hill you need to use your b
46 Glydrflyr : All I gotta say about this is that we have a half dozen Lincoln Town Cars in limo service, all driven by professional drivers, and not one of them has
47 Post contains images Klaus : I may have forgotten to mention it, but knowing how to drive was sort of implied as a basic requirement...! This is all primarily a question of drivi
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